Pumpkin Mascarpone Parfaits

I was walking through a department store yesterday and passed a girl wearing a shirt that read “BUT FIRST, PUMPKIN SPICE.” We giggle, but let’s get real: we all feel this way. At least a little. Admit it!

Tis the season for everything pumpkin. I fully embrace it. This is one of my favorite seasonal recipes I shot for Genius Kitchen last year. It’s everything you love about pumpkin pie, in a glass!

Serves 12

  • Two 15-oz cans organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups crushed Biscoff cookies*
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the pumpkin puree with the spices, salt, 2 cups of the mascarpone and 1 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar until thick and creamy.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream with the remaining mascarpone and 1 cup of powdered sugar until soft peaks form.
  3. Spoon half of the pumpkin mixture into 12 glasses and top with half of the mascarpone mixture and half of the crushed cookies. Repeat the layering process. Refrigerate the parfaits for 1 hour. Top with more cookie crumbs and a whole cookie before serving.

*If you can’t find Biscoff, use graham crackers!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine. Photos by Ashley Cuoco for Genius Kitchen.

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Tortellini with Pumpkin Sage Brown Butter

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Seasonal mood is in full swing! At least in my mind. Last week I happily put on a new sweater, only to realized it’s still 75 degrees outside. I have no shame. When fall’s in the air, I’m happy and I’m going to show it. All the pumpkin recipes are starting to surface. While there are some things I think we need to keep pumpkin out of (like this…really?) pasta is pumpkin’s partner in this dish. Sage and brown butter have a long time, awesome thing going. Throw them all together with cheese tortellini and Parmesan cheese and you’ve got an addicting pasta dish you’ll want to make all season long!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 lb fresh cheese tortellini
  • 1/2 cup up parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  1. To make the brown butter pumpkin sauce, add butter and sage leaves to a sauté pan over medium heat and swirl butter around in pan until it turns golden brown. A little brown bits are good! Don’t let it burn.
  2. Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and pepper. Stir and remove from heat.
  3. Cook tortellini in boiling salted water according to package directions, drain, and toss into sauté pan with warm sauce. Stir in parmesan cheese and serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Food.com.



Roasted Cheese Pumpkin Soup

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

A few weeks ago, my mom and I shared a memorable trip to a north shore Long Island, family owned farm. It was a beautiful, crisp autumn day. I went with the goal of finding a good cooking pumpkin to make this soup with. I found a lovely cheese pumpkin, which has been decoration until now (it has a shelf life of up to 1 year!) Today is Halloween, and although I really don’t care for it, it felt like the perfect day to cook my pumpkin. With my husband at school preparing for an exam, I found myself with some quiet time. I finished a few house chores (naturally, my reward is cooking) prepared candy for the trick-or-treaters, put on some old-timey Christmas tunes (don’t you say a word) and lit tea lights around the house. It was so serene. This is how I cook happy.

I learned that the cheese pumpkin is slightly sweet with a firm flesh, making it lovely for roasting, soup making and pie baking. It gets its name for the exterior resemblance to a wheel of cheese. Basically, it makes a wonderful puree. On a Saturday or Sunday when you have a little more time, it is actually very simple to make your own! Trust me. Once the pumpkin is roasted, it practically falls apart. All the good stuff comes right out. And once you’ve made it into soup, the flavor of the final product is subtle, rich, but not overwhelming– it has the smoothest, velvety texture. It is worth every effort. The addition of the coconut milk swirls and roasted seeds adds another layer of texture and interest to the bowl. You’ll also be able to say that nothing was wasted! Those seeds… they are a seriously delicious snack all by themselves. Do not be intimidated! Bask in the glory that is autumn and give this one a try! Sweet November, you are almost here.

(Gluten free… paleo… and vegan!)

Yield: 4 servings — Prep time: 5 mins — Cook time: 60 mins — Total time: 1 hour 5 minutes







  • 1 small cheese pumpkin (about 3 – 5 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried sage
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon chile powder
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut pumpkin in half, discarding the top stem and scooping out the seeds (don’t throw the seeds out!)
  2. Rub 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil on a baking sheet and place halves of pumpkins cut side down on pan. Roast for about 35 minutes, until pumpkin is tender and can easily be pierced with a fork. Don’t be alarmed if the pumpkin looks deflated when it comes out, it gets very soft.
  3. Let pumpkin cool and then scoop out the flesh, about 3 cups. Discard the skin. Once cool, I pureed the 3 cups of flesh until very smooth.
  4. Add the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, and ginger and sauté for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant. Add the pumpkin flesh, thyme, sage, pumpkin pie spice, chile powder, and stock. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste (I added about 1 teaspoon of each). Garnish with a drizzle of coconut milk and roasted pumpkin seeds*.

To roast pumpkin seeds, first boil the seeds in a small pot of water for 10 minutes. Strain, so you lose any strands of pumpkin, and dry. Place in a bowl with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Roast at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. When they roast, they turn from a grayish color to a lighter browned color. Crunch away!

79All photo credit: Ashley Cuoco

Soup recipe adapted from In Sonnet’s Kitchen.

A little lesson on other pumpkin varieties good for cooking and baking:

Cinderella Pumpkin: Looking much like the pumpkins that Cinderella’s fairy godmother magically transformed into a carriage, the Cinderella — with a flattened shape and striking red color — carries a strong and sweet flavor.

Long Pie Pumpkin: Also known as “Nantucket Pie,” the five to eight pound Long Pie looks nothing like a standard, round pumpkin. As its name suggests, it has an elongated shape, and its bright orange flesh is smooth and nearly string-less.

New England Pie Pumpkin: Known for making delicious pumpkin soup, the New England Pie has a superior consistency — string-less and slightly less sweet than the Baby Pam — that also makes for a thick filling in pies.

Pumpkin varieties via The Daily Meal, www.thedailymeal.com.

Pumpkin Maple Coffee Cake


Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Kendra Vaculin’s witty post for this cake on Food52 had me giggling:

“There are two types of people in this world: the ones that resist baking with pumpkin because it is an annual fad, and the ones that go full-tilt cuhrazy until bars and muffins and cookies and pie tumble out of every shelf in their fridge and pantry…”

I’m going to confess…I air on the ‘full-tilt crazy’ side when it comes to baking with pumpkin. I mean does anyone actually resist baking with pumpkin? I think not. The fad is great, join on in people! It only comes but once a year so you may as well enjoy it as long as possible. For instance, my sweet mother enjoys the autumn season so much that she decorates her home in August. Some call it crazy. I call it thorough enjoyment!

I was so excited when my NordicWare Bundt pan came in the mail. I think I squealed. I love the simple, elegant spiral design. Then I went on a mission to find the perfect fall-inspired recipe. Be still my pumpkin-loving heart! This confection combines pumpkin, maple glaze and a crumble center for the ultimate upgrade. So versatile, I have no doubt this goes for both dessert and breakfast. And there is no lack of maple flavor– all components of this cake get a little. All I can think about is waking up tomorrow morning, brewing my favorite Kona coffee and slicing off a piece or two at my kitchen table. I also love my landlords so much that I’ll gladly part with a few slices for them. A happy cuoco shares the fruits of her labors with the world!! Savor this cake with the ones you love this season.

Serves 8

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups packed pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Crumble and Glaze Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, cold
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices together in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix pumpkin, brown sugar, oil, syrup, buttermilk, and vanilla until well blended. Add wet mix to dry ingredients and fold to incorporate. The batter will be thick! Don’t worry, all is well.
  3. Next, assemble the crumble. Place butter, flour, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and cinnamon together in a bowl, cutting the cold butter into the rest with a fork, mixing until small chunks form. Set aside.
  4. Pour half of the batter into a prepared pan that has been well greased. I used a medium-sided bundt pan, which worked out really nicely, but a loaf pan or a small casserole dish situation would also be clutch. After the first half of the batter has been poured, sprinkle the crumble all over the dish, and then top with the remaining batter.
  5. Bake cake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Let cake cool while you assemble glaze (whisking milk and remaining 1/4 cup maple syrup into powdered sugar). If using a bundt pan, invert cake onto a wire rack to cool. Drizzle glaze over cake once it has completely cooled. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Food52, www.food52.com

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco


Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Autumn Honey Nut Brittle


Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

This autumnal brittle: so shiny and colorful! This is what drew me to this recipe. I’ve also been trying to get more protein into my diet. A variety of nuts are a great way to do that. And, you don’t have to feel guilty eating candy with all this good stuff mixed in! Cranberries and pumpkin seeds make this extra fall-ish. This was my first time making any kind of brittle or hard candy. One thing I learned is how important the heat of the sugar mixture is. Read my tips below and give it a whirl! Throughout the day you’ll break and crack the whole sheet till it’s gone.

Yield: 10-12 servings


  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  1. Heat the sugar, honey, water and salt in a large pot over a low-medium flame. Stir every five minutes or so. The mixture will begin to foam and bubble as it heats. Using a candy thermometer, continue to heat the mixture until it reaches a temperature of 310 degrees Fahrenheit*. This is very important because this is the temperature at which sugar hardens into a rock-like state after it cools. It can take up to an hour for the mixture to reach that high of a temperature, so be patient!
  2. While the sugar mixture is boiling, place a sheet of parchment paper on top of a shallow sheet pan, about 9″x13″ and grease the parchment paper. Set aside. After the sugar mixture reaches 310 degrees turn off the heat and allow to cool to 302 degrees, then immediately stir in the butter, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries until they’re coated evenly in the mixture.
  3. Immediately pour the mixture onto the parchment paper and spread it out into a large rectangle using a rubber spatula. Try to keep the surface relatively even and about 1 inch in height. Place the pan in the refrigerator and allow the brittle to cool for one hour. Once it has finished cooling, remove the sheet of brittle from the parchment paper and break the brittle into pieces using a meat tenderizer or clean hammer. Arrange the pieces on a serving platter and serve. Store excess brittle in a cool dry place. Enjoy!


*If you don’t have a candy thermometer (I did not), you can use the cold water method. All you’ll need is a bowl of cold water (the colder the better, ice water works great). While the sugar mixture is cooking, periodically drop a small spoonful of the sugar mixture into the bowl of cold water. Immerse your hand in the water, try to form the sugar into a ball, and bring it out of the water. The shape and texture of the resulting sugar blob will tell you the approximate temperature of your candy. In this case, we want “hard crack,” 300-310 degrees F. This means that when the sugar blob hits the cold water, the syrup forms brittle threads and easily cracks and snaps. It will solidify and form stands of hard threads. If you are interested in making other types of candy like fudge or caramels, consult a candy temperature chart.

Recipe adapted from Eva Kosmas Flores, www.adventures-in-cooking.com

3Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco


Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco